Some kids will fidget and pout if you sit them down to study for 20 minutes. But put the same kids in front of their favorite videogame console or toy, however, and they’ll remain quietly engrossed for hours. It’s no secret that we have infinitely more time and patience for the things we find enjoyable, and our kids are the same way. How can we harness this preference for games to benefit our children? By playing games that educate!
Start by introducing your children to the games you played in your youth. Games like Uno, Candyland, and Chutes and Ladders teach basic skills like color identification, numerical values, and organization – all important skills for a young child. For little ones, the simple act of sitting for a game, drawing the correct number of cards, and understanding winning, losing, and cheating is educational. The game itself is not necessarily that important.
As your child ages and their interests become more fine-tuned, you’ll need to expand your game arsenal. For example, if your child is a fan of military history or strategic video games, introduce them to a military themed game like chess, Risk, or Stratego. All these titles teach planning and executing a strategy, thinking ahead, and calculating risk.
You can also choose games designed to help your child in an area in which they are struggling. Word games like Scattergories and Scrabble can boost vocabulary, spelling, and reading ability. Games based in probability, like backgammon or card games, can help improve math skills. With so many games out there, all it takes is a bit of research to find one perfectly suited for your child.
Arguably the most important aspect of gaming with your kids is the quality time you get to spend together. If you have a favorite game, share it with your family. Even if you haven’t picked up a board or a deck of cards in a decade, you can rediscover your love of play. Newer games like Settles of Catan or Cranium are designed to appeal to both kids and adults. You may find yourself breaking them out when your friends come over!